The hike up Mount Popa is one of the most important pilgrimages in Burma. Mount Popa is an extinct volcano covered in thick vegetation that rises 1,518 metres above sea level, and at its base is a solitary volcanic plug capped with golden temples and glittering religious relics. The path up the mountain is peppered with stupas, shrines, exotic butterflies and plenty of mischievous monkeys. The word Popa means flower in Sanskrit, and you can buy flowers in bottles on your way up the mountain to place at the various shrines. The mysterious spirits of Burma’s animist faith called nats are said to live on the mountain, and as such there are many legends and traditional rules to abide by when hiking – for example it is unlucky to wear black or red, to say bad things about people and to bring meat (especially pork) onto the mountain.